Cycling the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail.The Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail in Oregon is a paved trail with a fascinating history. Built from 1913 to 1922 it was the first major paved highway in the Pacific Northwest and the first scenic highway constructed in the United States. Modeled after the great scenic roads of Europe, it was designed for a public who wanted to enjoy nature’s beauty from their Model T. With a maximum of 5% grades and 200ft turning radius it’s really a delight to bike.
There are three disconnected ribbons along abandoned stretches of the historic highway that total 12 miles of car free cycling. I recently biked the section from Hood River to Mosier, a gentle but fun 4.5 miles through two climate zones. This section is considered to be the most scenic as it strays far uphill from the modern highway that replaced it. Winding past spectacular geologic formations, traveling through twin tunnels and past numerous viewpoints, it packs a lot into a short ride.
My only complaint is that I wished it was longer – so much so that after we finished the 9 mile round trip we turned around and did it again.